FAQs for power outage at Atlanta airport

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FAQs for power outage at Atlanta airport

Last updated Tuesday at 10:36 a.m. Originally published Monday morning.


Power has been restored at the world’s busiest airport after a massive power outage Sunday afternoon left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season.

Here are frequently asked questions for anyone who may have been impacted by the outage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters are working on finding the answer to any unanswered questions. To submit a question you’d like answered, fill out the form at the bottom of this story.


Information for those still trying to get to their destination:  


Q: My flight was canceled. What do I do?

A: If you’re scheduled to fly at the start of the work week, you should check your flight status on your airline’s website or app. 

Here are links to check flight status on various airlines:

Delta flight status

United flight status

Spirit flight status

Frontier flight status

Q: Is DeKalb Peachtree Airport an option for diversion flights?

A: No. The operation commonly known as Peachtree DeKalb Airport or PDK is a general aviation airport that does not offer commercial flights.

Q: Can unaccompanied minors still travel?

Unaccompanied minors who already initiated their travel Sunday and whose travel was disrupted as a result of the outage are exempt from the embargo and may continue to travel.

Q: Where is lost and found at Hartsfield-Jackson? 

A: If you left items on an airplane or at a gate, contact the airline directly. Items left in the terminal and at passenger security checkpoints are given to ATL’s Lost and Found. Click here to fill out a lost item report and see FAQs.

The Lost and Found office is in Domestic Terminal North, upper level, across from American Airlines ticketing. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Q: Is the Plane Train working? How about the SkyTrain?

A: The SkyTrain was down until late Monday afternoon, forcing the airport to use buses to get travelers to the rental car area. It was up and running by 4 p.m., at which point officials declared on Twitter that the airport was operating at 100 percent efficiency.

The Plane Train was down, but is back up and running as of 10:15 a.m. today, according to airport spokes Reese McCrainie. The fire occurred in a tunnel that runs along the path of the underground Plane Train tunnel near Concourse E.

Q: Can I take MARTA to get to and from the airport?

A: Yes. Airport officials advised stranded passengers to take MARTA to hotels in downtown Atlanta or Midtown. MARTA service was not affected by the power outage.

Q: How are stranded passengers that had checked baggage supposed to get their luggage?

A: Delta has established a dedicated line to assist customers with checked luggage that was impacted by the disruption. Customers (including Air France-KLM customers) should call 1-888-977-1005 to arrange for baggage delivery. Due to congestion, customers are encouraged to call the dedicated line for assistance rather than going to an airport baggage service office.

All American Airlines customers claimed their bags Sunday, according to spokesman Ross Feinstein. The airline has 47 flights a day at Hartsfield-Jackson, and passengers on three flights that arrived during the outage were able to get their luggage from the planes, Feinstein said. American Airlines is operating normally Monday. 

Southwest Airlines customers whose final destination was Atlanta may visit the Southwest Baggage Service Office near the baggage claim area to retrieve baggage. All baggage that was scheduled to transfer via Atlanta to another airport will be sent to the customer’s final destination, and the receiving Southwest Station will contact the customer once the baggage arrives. Customers who need additional assistance should call 1-800-435-9792.

A United spokeswoman said Monday afternoon that they were preparing a response to the AJC’s questions. 

Q: What are the phone numbers and websites for Atlanta airport’s passenger airlines?

A: They are listed here, and below. 

Domestic Carriers

Major and national airlines reservation website and number:
Alaska Airlines 800-252-7522
American Airlines 800-433-7300
Boutique Airlines 855-268-8478
Delta Air Lines 800-221-1212
Frontier Airlines 800-432-1359
JetBlue Airways 800-538-2583
Southwest Airlines 800-435-9792
Spirit Airlines 801-401-2200
United Airlines 800-864-8331

International Carriers

Foreign-flag airlines reservation website and number:
Air Canada 888-247-2262
Air France 800-237-2747
British Airways 800-47-9297
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 800-447-4747
Korean Air 800-438-5000
Lufthansa German Airlines 800-645-3880
Qatar Airways 877-777-2827
Turkish Airlines 800-874-8875
Virgin Atlantic 877-359-8474



Information about costs and reimbursements: 


Q: Will fees be waived if I change my flight?

A: Many airlines are waiving certain change fees for passengers with flights booked for Monday to, from or through Atlanta who want to change their travel plans to avoid possible disruptions.

Here are links to airlines’ change fee waivers for Atlanta:

Delta waiver

Southwest waiver*

American waiver 

United waiver

Spirit waiver

Frontier waiver

*Southwest customers who are scheduled to travel to, from or through Atlanta on Sunday or Monday, Dec. 17 or 18, may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge. Customers holding reservations for a flight that is cancelled may request a refund for an unused ticket/travel itinerary. Read more here.

Q: Are airlines reimbursing travelers who had to book hotel rooms in Atlanta on Sunday night?

A: Delta announced on its website Sunday night that it would reimburse its customers for hotel rooms. Other airlines did not mention hotel reimbursement on their sites.

Read the Delta travel advisory here: 5 things to know about Delta’s Atlanta operation today

Q: Will this be covered by travel insurance if I missed my vacation connection?

A: A travel sales development specialist for Georgia at AAA-the Auto Club Group, said travel insurance should cover additional expenses like a hotel, new flights, ground transportation or car rentals, depending on the policy terms. Read more details here.


Information about what happened and who is accountable:


Q: What caused the fire?

Exact details are unclear, but Mayor Kasim Reed said Georgia Power is discussing building new concrete casing to ensure that another blaze can be contained before it spreads to a backup switch, which is what Reed and the utility’s officials said led to Sunday’s blackout. 

Q: Why wouldn’t the concession stands or authority provide water or cups to stranded passengers?

A: AJC reporters are working on finding the answer to this.

Some passengers did report airport employees handing out water and snacks in some areas. Chick-fil-A mobilized employees to prepare and deliver sandwiches to hungry travelers.

Monday morning Papa John’s pizza tweeted that the pizza chain would be delivering pizzas to stranded travelers later today. 

Q: Why aren’t there two totally separate power sources?

A: Georgia Power officials seemed to say that all its back-ups were placed in a single basket. Or at least were in reach of a single fire.

Q: Why weren’t the water fountains working?

A: We are working to find out more information on this question, but the lack of electricity was likely the culprit. 

Hartsfield-Jackson updated its water fountains in 2013 to include water bottle refilling stations. The redesign was part of an effort to cut down on the use of disposable water bottles. The stations were also installed in response to security restrictions that ban passengers from taking water bottles through security checkpoints. The water stations include an electronic sensor that activates the water. Some models of the increasingly popular water systems work with electricity and can still provide water during power outages. It’s unclear whether the stations at the Atlanta airport use this type of technology.

Q: Why wasn’t anyone at the airport communicating to the stranded passengers? 

Though no injuries were reported, the lack of information during the first few hours led to a chaotic scene both inside and outside the airport. The mayor apologized Monday for the delays in his response, but said officials knew little about the extent of the blaze for hours because it erupted in underground tunnels and needed extensive ventilation to clear noxious fumes.

Q: Why aren’t there emergency lights in each concourse?

It is unclear why there weren’t emergency lights, but the mayor said Monday that the airport would invest in “more aggressive portable lighting capability” to ensure that a power outage doesn’t leave vast parts of the airport dim or darkened again


Miscellaneous questions:


Q: Will flights later in the week be affected by the outage?

A: Operations at the Atlanta airport are expected to be back to normal by midday Monday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Travelers should still check their flight status leading up to the departure time. 

Q: Will the outage delay holiday package deliveries?

Q: Were any pets in the checked-in luggage compartment of any planes stuck on the tarmac? Did they have to stay underneath the whole time or did someone get them out?

A: A Delta spokesman said "all dogs were accommodated at a local kennel and all were successfully on their way to their destinations (Monday)." 

A Southwest Airlines spokesman said no animals were stuck in luggage compartments.  


AJC reporters are working to find answers to several other questions, including:


Will I be reimbursed for my original flight and other travel-related costs?

Why is the airport charging parking for stranded passengers?

Why wouldn’t the convenience stores in the airport sell their water or snacks, even if passengers were willing to not get receipts or change?

Why wouldn’t the police or security team clear a single lane on the entrance to the airport for the shuttle buses to continue to circle to get passengers back to their vehicles and out of the airport?

Why leave the planes stranded on the tarmac?

Why didn’t Delta pull in every reservation resource to try to rebook?   

What caused the fire to occur in the Georgia Power feed?

I used Skymiles to pay for my first class ticket and my daughter's. Delta ended up booking us on a different route that didn't have first class available. Can I get a refund for the difference in the price for coach and first class?

Are the GPL devices involved in the fire susceptible to attack through the web? 

The reporting of numerous AJC staffers have contributed to this report.

Do you have a question we haven’t answered? Send it to us here.  

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